Shelf Awareness for Monday, July 31, 2006

Harper Voyager: Dragon Rider (Soulbound Saga #1) by Taran Matharu

Page Street YA: The Final Curse of Ophelia Cray by Christine Calella

HarperOne: I Finally Bought Some Jordans: Essays by Michael Arceneaux

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz


Notes: Big New B&N; Sisters in Crime's 20th; 'Drastic Times'

Barnes & Noble will open an unusually large store--40,000 square feet--in the new wing of the Stamford Town Center mall, Stamford, Conn., that will replace the just-demolished Filene's store, according to the Stamford Advocate. The two-level store should open in October 2007.

The new wing will have seven other stores, restaurants and more. A 3,900-sq.-ft. Waldenbooks store elsewhere in the mall renewed its lease this spring.

Sandra Goldstein, executive director of the Stamford Downtown Special Services District, told the paper that the addition of Barnes & Noble was "an extraordinary coup for the mall's renaissance. To get a bookstore that is building its premier, showcase urban model in our city is just phenomenal."


Tower Records, which has two bookstores and sells a limited selection of books in its music stores, has named Joseph L. D'Amico as interim CEO, succeeding Allen Rodriguez, who decided not to renew his contract.

D'Amico is a senior managing director at FTI Palladium Partners, where he serves "in interim management capacities" for other companies. His main goal at Tower will be to sell the company, which the board of directors decided to do early this year (Shelf Awareness, February 23).

In a statement, D'Amico pitched Tower Records as "a true icon in the entertainment industry," and said the company "presents a rare opportunity for the right party to leverage a renowned brand name, unique physical locations, and an award-winning online presence to turn Tower Records into the preeminent entertainment retailer in the U.S."


Sisters in Crime, which has more than 3,000 members--writers, fans, booksellers and librarians committed to parity for female mystery authors--is celebrating its 20th anniversary this fall. In October, bookstores nationwide can celebrate with Sisters in Crime by setting up displays highlighting the organization and its authors. To sign up for a free kit including poster, bookmarks, pencils, booklet of authors by location, crime scene tape, bumper stickers, pencils and more, click here.

The deadline--and we mean deadline--is August 10.


One of the more unusual bookstores we've heard about--the Bookstore in Reidsville, N.C., founded in 1992--is "slated to close in March," according to the Greensboro News-Record. Owned by Richard Moore, who is also closing his gadfly newspaper, the Neely Chronicle, the Bookstore became the only general bookstore in the county last year after a Waldenbooks closed. Despite the lack of that competition, sales "slumped so much that Moore is now selling used books and has added what he called a 'porn corner' to the shop." He told the paper, "Drastic times call for drastic measures."

HarperOne: Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World--And How You Can, Too by Ijeoma Oluo

Bookshop West Portal's Grand Opening

For Neal Sofman, former head of A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, his new venture, Bookshop West Portal, in the West Portal neighborhood of San Francisco, Calif., is "like going back 25 years." The first store he opened was a similar size to Bookshop West Portal's 2,300 square feet--although it soon expanded. "This store feels really comfortable, but at the same time, we're having events that average over 100 people," he told Shelf Awareness. Martina Navratilova drew the most people--220. (Most fixtures in the store are on wheels, making it easy to clear the space.)

After six weeks in business, Bookshop West Portal had its grand opening celebration on Saturday. The store offered entertainment and refreshments in the afternoon and gave a 20% discount on all books, cards and gifts. "We probably had about 1,000 people in the store," he said. "We opened at 10 and it didn't stop. There was someone at the register all day and usually a line. I left at 8 and it still hadn't stopped."

This warm reception continued a trend that started when Bookshop West Portal originally opened. "People coming into the store for the first time often say the same things," Sofman said. "They say, 'Welcome to the neighborhood.' They thank you for doing this, saying that the neighborhood really needed a good bookstore. Then the final thing they say is, 'Are you crazy?' " He laughed, adding happily, "I'm not used to being thanked for opening a store."

There are other things he's not used to but not minding at all. The neighborhood is "very affluent," Sofman said. "Only one person has talked about price, which is a very different experience for me. Some customers buy two or three hardcovers without blinking." There are many families with children in the neighborhood, so that the store is selling "more children's books than anything else"--about 20%-25% of unit sales. The store's backlist fiction section is also "very hot."

The customers are "hungry for books and to meet authors," Sofman continued. At the events, which are going "exceedingly well," the questions put to authors are "good, probing" ones. "It's a very literate community." That community also includes "scads of local authors," many of whom are published by small presses or self-published. "I assume I'll do a fair amount with them this fall," he said. Already more than 4,000 people have signed up for the store's e-mail list.

The bookstore's building, constructed as a Victorian toy store, is "the right location on the right block," Sofman commented. On that block are six restaurants, half of which are so popular people have to wait to be seated, which encourages browsing at the bookstore. There are also coffee shops nearby, and San Francisco State is a quarter of a mile away. "After school closed, a lot of students came in and said they could find things here that they couldn't elsewhere," Sofman said.

Bookshop West Portal has been building inventory steadily and is now up to about $200,000 at retail, aiming for about $300,000 in the fall. The store has done "a ton of business" with local schools, helping supply titles for summer reading lists.

The store also plans to do "lots of out-of-store events," although it's not ready for this yet. Sofman had emphasized in-store and off-site events at A Clean Well-Lighted Place, so "people know me and know I can do it. We just have to hire some people to assist on this." Currently the store has three full-time employees, including Sofman, and four part-timers.

His next immediate task, Sofman said, is to get on the phone with publicists in New York to book more author events. "I'm telling them that if they have a hot author with any extra time, we're the place!"

Bookshop West Portal is located at 80 West Portal Ave., San Francisco, Calif. 94127; 415-564-8080;

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Now Signing in Concourse A/B . . . Richard Glaubman

Partway through a most unusual signing last Friday--at a Borders Express on the post-search side of the security gates at the Southwest Airlines terminal at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport--the store had sold more than 40 copies of Life Is So Good (Penguin, $15, 0141001682), the autobiography of George Dawson written with Richard Glaubman. General manager David Watt and at least one other store member regularly approached people who entered the store, telling them about the book and introducing them to co-author Glaubman. Customers included employees of the airport and other stores at the airport. One Borders Express staff member who had the day off but was a big fan of the book came in just to meet Glaubman. But most customers were travelers who chatted a few minutes with Glaubman and bought copies of Life Is So Good. Others demurred but seemed curious about an author at an airport. Few people stayed more than five or ten minutes and many departed with the same line, "I have to catch a flight!"

"It's the last place I thought I'd do a book signing," Glaubman told Shelf Awareness. "But this is all about David's commitment and enthusiasm for the book. That's what's making this happen." (In the photo at left, Glaubman speaks with a TSA officer, who bought a copy of the book.) As noted here earlier this month (Shelf Awareness, July 12), Watt has been an enthusiastic handseller of the book, selling more than 1,200 copies of Life Is So Good since the store (and terminal) opened May 18, 2005. The store is on track to sell at least 1,000 copies this year.

First published in 2000, the book is the story of George Dawson, who died at age 103 not long after Penguin published the paperback edition in 2001. Black, poor and living in east Texas, Dawson endured all sorts of hardships but throughout his life had a positive attitude and a wise outlook on people and events. At age 98, he learned to read.

Glaubman, who befriended Dawson after reading an article about him, noted that at Dawson's 100th birthday party, "for the first time he was able to read his birthday cards." Other than some long train rides in the 1920s, Dawson hadn't traveled, and when the two toured together for the book, "he had the best time," Glaubman said. "He loved flying and seeing so many cities."

In a tone of awe, Glaubman, a school teacher who lives in the Seattle area, said that he learned about BWI Airport's hotbed of handselling enthusiasm for Life Is So Good from friends who were in the store and overheard manager Watt telling customers about the book. Glaubman contacted Watt, and they've stayed in touch; as part of a trip to Philadelphia, he came to the store for the signing. "It's made this a very fun trip for me," he said. Such an event for the book this long after publication is unusual, he continued: Life Is So Good is often used for community reads, and Glaubman is sometimes asked to speak at high schools and colleges about the book, but he hasn't done a signing in a store in quite a while.

For his part, Watt, who celebrates his fifth anniversary at Borders in August (in the photo, Glaubman is on the left, Watt on the right), said that he was happy to have switched careers and become a bookseller and be able to promote books like Life Is So Good. For nine years, he had been the manager of a Target store, working 90 hours a week and collecting books, his real joy, in what little spare time he had. The day after he finished reading Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom--a theme of which is that one should live more and work less--Watt gave notice. After taking a month-long break at his parents' house, golfing and fishing every day, he posted a resume on seeking bookstore work, which was answered within an hour by Borders. "I found out later the woman at Borders looked at only once a month," Watt said in a way that suggested destiny might have had a hand in things.

Judging from his enthusiasm and amiable attitude with employees and customers alike, the bookselling life is so good. He agrees, saying, "I can be in a bad mood and come here and in five minutes, I'm happy. I love people and I love to talk and I love books."

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

Media and Movies

The Night Listener Tunes in on Friday

The Night Listener, directed by Patrick Stettner, based on the book by Armistead Maupin, opens in theaters August 4. Starring Robin Williams, Toni Collete, Sandra Oh and Rory Culkin, this psychological thriller follows popular late-night radio host Gabriel as he seeks the true identity of his biggest fan, a young boy he has spoken with many times. Besides the regular edition of The Night Listener (Harper Perennial, $14, 006093090X), which will stay in print, there are paperback (Harper Perennial, $14.95, 0061120200) and audio ($39.95, 0061238910) tie-in editions. Maupin himself narrates the CD, which is unabridged.

There's a lot of publicity for The Night Listener, driven in part by Williams. Also Maupin will be talking up the book (see below).

Media Heat: Armistead Maupin

Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show, Debby Applegate talks about her new book, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher (Doubleday, $27.95, 0385513968).


Today on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Armistead Maupin, author of The Night Listener (Perennial, $14.95, 0061120200), the movie version of which opens on Friday.


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Peter Beinart, author of The Good Fight: Why Liberals--And Only Liberals--Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again (HarperCollins, $25.95, 0060841613).

Books & Authors

Book Sense: May We Recommend

From last week's Book Sense bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Book Sense Picks:


Save Your Own by Elisabeth Brink (Houghton Mifflin, $23, 0618651144). "Struggling to finish her dissertation on 'secular conversion,' Gillian Cormier-Brandenburg (a nonbeliever at Harvard Divinity School) takes a job at Responsibility House, a treatment center for women with alcohol and drug addictions, where she ultimately undergoes a conversion to being a participant in her own life. Gillian is a wholly original character and those around her are vividly drawn. A satisfying and promising debut."--Carol Feliciano, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, R.I.

Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's by R.A. Scotti (Viking, $25.95, 0670037761). "This is a perfect book for anyone going to Rome or anyone who has been in Rome and wants to know more about the Renaissance artists who worked there under the oppressive oversight of Pope Julius II. In fact, it's perfect for anyone who delights in historic research leavened by dramatic stories of larger-than-life clashing personalities."--John Bennett, Bennett Books, Wyckoff, N.J.


Tenderwire by Claire Kilroy (Harvest, $14, 015603204X). "This story about a young musician and her obsession with a very old violin (which lures her into a life she would never have thought possible) features an original plot and is sexy, thrilling, engaging, and intelligent."--Michael Katzenberg, Bear Pond Books of Montpelier, Montpelier, Vt.

For Kids to Age 8

The Sound of Colors: A Journey of the Imagination by Jimmy Liao (Little, Brown, $16.99, 0316939927). "Jimmy Liao has written and illustrated a hopeful, empowering story about a young girl who has lost her vision. One day, when she ventures into the subway, she takes us on her quest to explore some difficult questions: What do we find beneath the surface? Where is home? When does my journey end? This story reminds us to appreciate our senses, those we depend on and those we've forgotten to use."--Jessica Deutsch, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, Minn.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]

Powered by: Xtenit